Examining the Status of Human Rights in South Africa

This Human Rights Day, the FW de Klerk Foundation invites you to examine the degree to which rights and freedoms in the Bill of Rights are being enjoyed in practice through its annual Human Rights Report Card.

The Report considers the manner in which the State is meeting its obligations in terms of section 7(2) of the Constitution to respect, promote and fulfill the rights in the Bill of Rights. It also takes into account the foundational values in section 1 of the Constitution and – in particular – adherence to the rule of law and the supremacy of the Constitution on which all the rights in the Bill of Rights ultimately depend.

The unfortunate reality is that many South Africans are in a desperate situation which makes enjoying the full spectrum of the rights listed in this Report, impossible.

The 2022 Report identified the ten principal threats to human rights as:

  1. The unsustainable conditions of poverty, inequality, unemployment, loadshedding, violent crime and declining social, educational and health services that constitute the lived daily experience of a majority of South Africans.
  2. Any continuation of the severe and arbitrary restrictions of a wide range of basic rights imposed under the Disaster Management Act to deal with the COVID crisis or the declaration of any similar national disaster.
  3. Any repetition of the collapse of law and order experienced in KwaZulu-Natal during the July 2021 riots.
  4. The impact on a wide range of human rights of the failure of service delivery at all levels of government – and particularly the consequences of loadshedding.
  5. The failure of the South African Government to take decisive action to combat state capture and corruption at all levels of government and state-owned enterprises.
  6. The failure of the state to protect lives, bodily integrity and property evidenced by unacceptable rape and robbery statistics and a disturbing increase in the number of murders.
  7. The undermining of property rights with the adoption of measures in terms of the Expropriation Bill, the Land Courts Bill and the Unlawful Entering on Premises Bill.
  8. The serious erosion of non-racialism through the implementation of 132 race-based laws, including the Employment Equity Amendment Bill and the Legal Sector Code and the failure of the state to prohibit incendiary racist hate speech by prominent political leaders.
  9. The erosion of the freedom of expression posed by the Prevention and Combatting of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill.
  10. The continued erosion of language rights resulting from the implementation of the Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill; the failure to implement the Use of Official Languages Act and the erosion of the right to education in the language of choice at all levels of public education.